Source: Charlotte Observer
A Cabarrus County Commissioner announced in October that he was quitting the North Carolina Republican Party and changing his affiliation to unaffiliated due to the party’s thirst for power and nothing else, he said in a video, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Kenny Wortman announced the switch in a 19-minute video posted on Facebook. In it, he expressed his displeasure with the local Republican Party’s leadership because “it does not have your best interests in mind” and he implied the party was only “concerned with power.” He also announced that he won’t run for reelection once his term is up in 2026.
According to The Charlotte Observer, Wortman’s announcement did not sit well with Cabarrus County Republicans, especially with Brian Echevarria, the chairman of the county GOP.
During a Board of Commissioners meeting on Oct. 16, Echevarria called Wortman a “turncoat” and said he committed “a betrayal of Republican voters” that left Cabarrus County without an all-Republican commission for the first time in 25 years, the Independent Tribune reported.
“Commissioner Wortman’s decision to step away from the Republican Party and the principles that unite us is a betrayal of Republican voters who trusted he would represent their conservative interests,” Echevarria said. “And yet now we’re faced with what our Founding Fathers would have called a turncoat. His departure from the Republican Party is a display of ingratitude and deceit never before seen in Cabarrus County.”
Though Echevarria was furious about Wortman’s decision to leave the party, this was hardly the most notable or consequential party switch in North Carolina politics this year.
That distinction belongs to Rep. Tricia Cotham, the Mecklenburg County Democrat-turned-Republican. Cotham – who campaigned in her heavily Democratic district on protecting the right to an abortion and codifying Roe v. Wade, LGBTQ+ rights, health care as a right, higher teacher pay, increases in public school funding and stricter gun control measures – became a Republican in April, giving them a supermajority in both chambers. She then spent the next several months voting for bills that were in direct opposition to everything she campaigned on.
Wortman and Cotham’s switches were not the first in the state’s history. The Charlotte Observer reported that at least three other politicians have switched parties in the state since 1970 – U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, Rep. Michael Decker and Rep. Paul Tine. As for the entire country, approximately 173 lawmakers in the U.S. have changed party affiliation since 1994, according to Ballotpedia.